The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, Francisco Martínez Arroyo, took part in the inauguration of the 'Naturaceite' conference, organised by eldiario.es in the town of Mora, Toledo. There, he said that Castilla-La Mancha now has more olive groves than vineyards. "We are the region with the most vineyards in the world and the one that produces the most wine, but from now on we can also say that we have a large area of olive groves, even more than vineyards", with around 450,000 hectares.
But in the region, "the olive groves we have are generally low-yielding, not very productive" and this means that it is "a very social crop and doubly important from an economic point of view, because of the income it provides for our olive growers and for the conservation of the landscape, for the territory, for the fight against erosion and against climate change".
This olive sector, which transforms its product into olive oil in the villages, is "glued to the land" and "does not relocate", which allows "rural development, economy and future, and young people deciding to stay and live in rural areas: the future in Castilla-La Mancha goes through the agri-food sector," said the Minister.
Martínez Arroyo reiterated that the "agricultural model of our region is that of small and medium-sized enterprises, that of family farming, which is supported by the last law passed in this legislature and which will prioritise aid to these companies as opposed to investment funds that represent the 'uberisation' of the countryside. This contrast of models is interesting because it is the basis of the economy in the rural world".
Castilla-La Mancha currently has 80,000 olive growers and "we don't want to lose any of the 80,000 families in the sector in Castilla-La Mancha", the minister pointed out. That is why they will be able to receive support in the face of the drought. "The woody crops adapted to the land withstand the extreme difficulties of our climate very well", said Martínez Arroyo, "but being aware of the difficulty, yesterday, at the Mesa de la Sequía, we decided to implement a measure to recover them, in case of need due to the drought". This is a line endowed with 16 million euros and will operate in a similar way to the aid that was launched before the storm 'Filomena' for olive groves.
The Minister recalled that Castilla-La Mancha has more than 250 olive mills and four Designations of Origin for extra virgin olive oil, D.O.P. Montes de Toledo, D.O.P. Aceite de La Alcarria, D.O.P. Campo de Montiel and D.O. Campo de Calatrava, very different from each other, which allow us to tell "different stories to the consumer", all of them launched "from our countryside and with our soul", as reflected in the guarantee mark of the region's quality foods, "which has an ever-increasing presence".
The aim of the conference, now in its third edition, was to create a space for reflection on the importance of developing biodiversity preservation practices in olive growing.
After the inauguration, there was a presentation on 'The influence of organic olive grove management in the construction of the phenolic and organoleptic profile of virgin and extra virgin olive oil', given by the consultant Miguel Abad; two round tables, one of which was attended by the Director General of Agriculture and Livestock, Cruz Ponce; and there was an oil tasting in which participants were able to sample oils from the olive oil mills invited to the event.
Accompanying the Minister Martínez Arroyo at 'NaturAceite' were the Director General of Food, Elena Escobar; the Director General of Agriculture and Livestock, Cruz Ponce; the Managing Director of the Water Agency, José Manuel Martín; the provincial delegate of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, Jesús Fernández; the Mayor of Mora, Emilio Bravo; as well as representatives of the region's olive oil mills.